Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Face Your Writing Fears

First of all, a big cheer for all of you who are doing NaNoWriMo! I tried Nano once. Two days later I gave up and started eating ice cream. I'm kidding! But really, I am not the type of writer who can crank out word count that quickly so if you are, I really do applaud you, and I stand a bit in awe of you as well.

Today I want to talk about something we as writers all face: fear.

Newer writers will sometimes ask, "How do I get over my fear of writing something that stinks?"

The answer is usually, "You don't."

I know-- I'm Miss Positivity today, right? But bear with me.

You will never get over your fear of writing poorly. And that's because to write well, you inevitably end up pouring your heart into the thing. And if you poor your heart into the thing, you are going to care about it deeply.

You can however, write through and beyond your fear, which is a different thing entirely.

If you're writing as a Christian writer, you have the amazing assurance that God is at the helm of your story-- and that is not something to take lightly. Because God's work in us is never wasted. I can tell you that even the books I wrote that didn't sell changed me as a writer and me as a person, and I am so glad looking back that those books aren't floating around in the world because that is no longer the writer I am today (hello, chick lit) and readers would be totally confused.

If you learn to accept those feelings of anxiety over inadequacy, you can acknowledge them and refocus. Typically, I've learned my own fears stem from the perception of scarcity. What if I go to all this work and no one reads it? What if I get this contract and it's the only one I have? What if people think I'm only mediocre?

Many of my friends and students have expressed similar fears-- what if I embarrass myself? What will people think of me?

You know what all of these questions have in common? The mislocation of our identity. As writer. As author. As child of God. In reality, there is only one opinion that matters, and He is the one who has equipped you in the first place. You don't have to prove yourself good enough or worthy because He makes you those things.

It's only when we shift our perspective to the security that can be found in our deeper-rooted identity that we can begin to implement strategies to draw it out. Get away from the lies and the fears you have believed. Try writing them down so you can see in ink how silly they sound. Try going to a coffee shop for a change of scenery as you work on your next scene. Try "writing" via dictation, or write on the notes app of your phone. Do whatever you need to do to write from a place of freedom over fear. Because the fear may not go away, but that doesn't mean you have to let it rule you.


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Glynis said...

Fear is a killer of dreams and motivation. You are absolutely right that our identity is so wrapped up in our writing sometimes that it can be crippling to think of rejection and failure tied to it. This is a great post and timely for me, I think. And yes, I'm doing NaNoWriMo, but I actually admire people who can write without the goal and motivation of it, so kudos to you for writing during the rest of the year LOL

Ashley Clark said...

Ha! I love that, Glynis! Thanks for stopping by!